Asambleas Ciudadanos


the Citizens' Assembly in the Southern Cone



Seminar Armed Forces, democracy and integration in South America

Translations : Español . français . English

New contact has been made between the Assembly of the Southern Cone and the regional Armed Forces. This time is through an international seminar entitled “Armed Forces, democracy and integration in South America”. The meeting, organized on April 3 and 4, 2009 in Santiago de Chile, gathered around ten active and retired military officers from neighboring countries as well as various research centers and diplomats.

Let’s recall that conversations with the Military began in 2005 in Santiago, where approximately twenty officers from the Armed Forces of different continents got together with the support of the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation to face the challenges found in the building of peace and democracy. The event had had little follow-up in the Southern Cone, though.

Why repeat the initiative, then? To take advantage of a new opportunity: the existence of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations, created in May, 2008) and its Defense Ministries’ Council, which will meet precisely in May 2009 in Santiago to establish - for the first time ever - a common security agenda for the countries of the region. The fact that the topic was raised in the political agenda enabled to open the debate between the Armed Forces and the civil society.

Conversely, in order to advance on the challenge of regional integration , the Armed Forces have a key role to play, from the point of view of defense and security, in the integration of the Latin American countries within a regional group that can establish a dialog with the other great regions of the world. This integration effort implies ruptures “both internal to the working of the armed forces and of the States, and external to overcome the current obstacles to the integration mechanisms,” as Alihuen Antileo, from the Center of Studies on Defense and Security of the ARCIS University (Chile), points out.

The debates showed that it was necessary to successively set out issues about the function of the military power, their ethical foundations and legitimacy of power within democratic governments, as well as the concept of national security, the scale of solidarity between communities and the new regulations to be defined. Each of these issues was marked by very important advances :

  • moving from a national security doctrine to a democratic security doctrine which identifies urban violence, drug trafficking, poverty, organized crime, corruption and impunity as the main personal and democracy insecurity factors: isn’t this a real change of ethics and of traditional military function?
  • regional integration as the only way for Latin American peoples to, on the one hand, face world powers within a global context dominated by neo-liberal logics, and, on the other, take part in the exchange of wealth about the global market, and exert positive pressure on globalization. Integration implies “inside” solidarity, wealth redistribution between regional communities and less asymmetrical, more horizontal relations between countries with varying economic weight (above all within the Common Southern and the Andean Community).
  • the continent considered as a potential for peace and natural resources which can be a decisive factor in the world’s evolution scenarios. This is why the sustainable management of natural resources is more than a priority for the future; it has presently become a real obligation when its growing scarcity may tempt more and more foreign power’s greed.

“One of the things which has really made an impression on me during this seminar,” states Ricardo Jiménez, “is listening to the military officers claim that integration is a sine qua non condition if we want to co-exist in the globalized world. For them, direct insertion into the countries, without an intermediate link to the present world system, cannot but make them advance towards inequality development. Two visions of integration emerge : one of them is “competitive”, in the sense that we need to get together in order to oppose the game of the great powers ; the other is “inclusive”, since it is only by organizing solidarities from the local link to the national and regional level that a global integrated system will be created”.

The seminar was developed in the shape of five round tables (each with two papers and then a quick discussion with the public) followed by a closing plenary session. A small, highly motivated team was in charge, and they were provided with the right means for it.

Among the Armed Forced officers from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru who attended the meeting were:

  • Admiral Armando Amorim Ferreira Vidigal – member of the Brazilian Institute of Strategic Studies
  • Colonel Osvaldo Tosco – advisor of the Argentine Minister of Defense, former director of the Center of Strategic Studies of the Argentine Armed Forces Higher State.
  • Loreta Tellería – director of the Center of Military Studies and Security in Bolivia
  • General Rodolfo Robles – advisor at Defense and Security in Peru
  • Colonel Luis Ariñez – second commander of the Army’s Military School in Bolivia
  • Flabián Nievas – Director of the Center of Studies on War at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Galo Eidelstein Silber – researcher at CEDES in Chile, Master in Security and Defense from the National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies.

Chilean Undersecretary of Defense and representatives of the diplomatic bodies present in Chile also took part in it.







the Southern Cone Assembly ont the web

Visit the webpage of the Assembly : and the different blogs linked to its initiatives : the General Blog of the Argentinan team in Córdoba, the Blog of the revue Pensamiento Propio, the blog de la Regional Integration Chair.

Pictures of the 2009 women's meetings

Have a look at the pictures of the women’s meetings held in September and November 2009


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